Significant commercial and industrial solar installations in Western Australia has resulted in Todae Solar employing its first dedicated full-time business development manager in Perth.

Mark Timson, who was the technical sales and service manager for energy utility Synergy for three years before leaving in July to set up his own consultancy, Sustainable Action, has taken on the Perth role.

He is leading the commercial and industrial sales in Western Australia as well as supporting other opportunities nationally.

“We exclusively focus on industrial and commercial solar so primarily that means 30 kilowatts and above,” Mr Timson said. “So ranging from simple 30kW grid connect processes over here with the networks all the way into multi megawatt sites or multi megawatts across multiple sites, which we are seeing a fair bit of as well.”

Mr Timson’s role involves helping customers to understand their load profile, how to reduce their overall costs and giving them confidence in the solar technology and the installation on their site.

According to Mr Timson, it’s taken a while for the business sector to really understand and appreciate what solar can do internally for their own business case. However, financial controllers are now interested.

“The confidence in solar – and the work done through the history of the residential market and the early phases of the industrial and commercial solar – has now rippled through to be more mainstream for most businesses,” he said.

“It really has only been in the past year or so, maybe almost two years, that commercial solar really has stacked up – going for that five-year payback period.”

In addition, financing solutions have improved, especially over the past 12 months, with most of the major financial institutions now offering great packages.

“That has flowed through to some really flexible options for businesses if they do not want to invest from a capex [capital expenditure] point of view,” Mr Timson said. “If they are looking for a pure opex [operating expenditure] solution, there are quite a few new options for them now that run on five, seven or 10-year leases, or even power purchase agreements, which can effectively mean no money upfront and a cashflow-positive position from day one for a lot of businesses.”

Todae Solar, which now has more than 60 staff and sub-contractors nationally, is seeing growth in the light industrial manufacturing sector as well as the food and agriculture space.

“Not only the traditional rooftop solar … but also great opportunities for ground-mount solutions for more agri-businesses, as well for manufacturing businesses – for large businesses that may have access to land or usable space that would suit solar. So we are seeing a bit of an opportunity there.”

Providing battery solutions for commercial and industrial customers to complement their solar systems will be another key area of growth over the next 12 months and beyond.

According to Mr Timson, the outlook for commercial solar is very strong.

“Obviously we still have buoyant prices from the large-scale [generation] certificate point of view, we also have business customers who are seeing their own forecasts for increasing electricity prices,” he said. “Also too, there has obviously been more economies of scale in the industrial and commercial space itself in helping to improve the business case overall, so the costs in a few different areas have combined to make the opportunities really stack up.”